Fast forward. It's what a lot of pregnant women wish we could do when anticipating the birthing process and arrival of our new little one. The last crucial month of baby development is a rough circus of insomnia, heartburn/reflux, back pain and not being able to tie your own shoes.
Add to that the boredom of bedrest. Eeesh! And I still couldn't really do a lot. Even crochet made me tired at first. I had a lot of recovering to do after such a lengthy hospital experience. So, Netflix and I got very well acquainted.
After my hospital stay, I had about 7 more weeks till my due date. During this time I had to go to the high risk doc for a half hour on the fetal monitor and an ultrasound to check fluid levels. I felt that the ultrasounds were highly unnecessary, but you have to realize, I was exhausted and unable to put up a fight. I prayed there would be no long-term negative effects on my son.
It turns out that the fluid check was a providence we hadn't anticipated. When I reached 39.5 weeks, the fluid was measuring so low that even my most trusted birthing expert advised me to take action. I begged the staff to give me 24 hours to go home and prepare. You can't just spring a surprise birth on someone who already experienced so much trauma. I finally had enough energy for some rational input.
I tried to get a good night's sleep, but I'm not sure there is any such thing for a woman about to give birth. I tried to drink plenty of liquids, even homemade Gatorade, but somehow I knew it was too little too late and tomorrow we would be meeting our baby boy.
I packed some snacks and a water bottle, little knowing that I was not allowed to eat once an induction began in case of emergency anesthesia. I'm afraid I had precious little acquaintance with what to expect in a hospital birth since my first two were low risk, natural water births at a very homelike birthing center.
The maternity ward was on a different floor so they sent a nurse to bring me up in a wheelchair. I wasn't having it. She said it was policy. I told her flat out that I was walking up there on my own two feet and she could follow me with the chair if she wanted to. It would have to do. Besides, Josh was right there if I somehow lost my footing. (I'm going to be a precious old lady someday, aren't I?)
I am so glad Josh brought his laptop. We did some paperwork. We watched some Anime. I got stuck with IVs and attached to a heart monitor. We waited and waited and a few hours after being admitted, they finally hooked me up to Pitocin. The lowest possible dosage to start with as per regulation.
Two hours and more shows. Barely a pinch. We did this "up the Pitocin" dance for several hours. They told me it was fine, that they always went this slow. But goodness, I was starving and working up a hunger headache and the day was half over!
Finally, they increased the Pitocin to zero point haytch-ee-double-hockey-sticks and things started to kick in. In an oof sort of way. The kind of "oof" where you can't sit still. The labor pains were very mild, cramp-like really up until that point. I would have called it my easiest labor of the three.
But things were picking up fast. The doctor told me she was going home to take a nap. And this is the part where I really, really wished I'd had a doula. I thought I didn't need one because I was experienced. But hospitals are so different. There is no unspoken communication such as I experienced with my first midwife. She always had the instincts to know what was going on. I needed her.
Oh, how I wished at that moment that I had flung caution to the wind, packed up in my parents' van and just hung out at their place for my period of bedrest. It would have been so much better to do this with the same babycatcher who delivered my other two.
I mentally wrung my hands and cried out after her, "Don't go! It's going to be soon. I know it!" But she couldn't read my thoughts. There are extreme disadvantages to being an introvert sometimes.
She left and I curled in a fetal position on the hospital bed. These were the deep focus and steady concentration contractions that suck you into a completely different dimension of space and time. Transition was nigh.
I broke. Into a thousand miserable pieces. None of the nurses sensed the intensity and even when I could finally communicate with a primal shriek, they somehow all forgot to turn off the Pitocin. "I need a toilet!" I gasped desperately. Not as much as I had thought, but it was just all the pressure. Josh and one of the nurses assisted me back to the bed. Instead of perching on it, I hung off the side dramatically, picturing myself to be a chained animal. Then came the inevitable. "Is it too late for an epidural?" I wailed.
The nurse, sensing my deep need for reassurance and affirmation that it was too much to handle, did me one of the greatest favors in the world. "It's never too late for an epidural," she soothed. We both knew full well it was lip service but I'm still forever grateful. We were way beyond too late. Baby was pressing!
"I have to go again!" I cried. We hobbled back to the potty, whereupon my water broke and tiny child was moving into the birth canal. Fast!
"He's coming! Now!" I hollered in a tone not to be ignored.
"Alright. We're calling the doctor. She needs about ten minutes to get here."
Ten eternal minutes.
"I NEED to push!" I screamed.
They begged me and pleaded with me to just hold on. My body was speaking otherwise but I didn't know how to argue with urgent, worried people. If I could go back and do it again I'd just darn well do what I had to do.
Have I mentioned that hospital beds aren't really beds at all? They are actually tall white towers that come apart in the middle so you can hang desperately in midair and hope to goodness you don't fall out. I wished I could squat on the floor but they'd be horrified and I had to keep some measure of dignity surrounded by all those strangers.
So I bit my lip, and held my breath. (Bad idea. Insert oxygen mask.)
The OB finally arrived, adjusted the bed to her comfortable height, and then turned on what I can only possibly refer to as the interrogation light. It was that hot and bright. Great. A spotlight for the grand entrance.
Well, gosh, I pushed a lot longer than I thought I would have to. It's what comes of holding the baby in when he wants to come out. Now my job was twice as hard. Get thee a midwife, is my best advice to you, my friends. They know how to do this the right way.
Finally, Cameron Nathaniel Bagley joined us in this world. He was the most beautiful ugly little old man gnome baby in the whole wide world! And my finicky heart stayed in sinus rhythm through the whole thing! (See The Story of my Heart posts for more on that.)
Sadly, after 1/2 hour of mama love, I had to relinquish him to the NICU to be monitored in case he had withdrawal due to the beta-blockers I was taking. I can't even describe the utter despair that sets in when a new mother is deprived of her baby. But he was a strong lad and did not need to be there for long. It turns out that I was the one who hit a crisis and he actually did have to be given some donor breast milk that was lovingly procured on his behalf.
They gave him the all clear after 12 hours. He was in the room with us after that until we left the hospital. Bundle of baby love.
And the best, best part! They did a celebration candlelight steak dinner in our room as part of the hospital package for new parents. So much food we couldn't even eat it all! Whoever thought that one up was a genius, to be sure!
Two days later, we were on our way home with our dear little son to enjoy the wonder and delight that accompanies a newborn life.
So much love!